Move at your own pace through sagebrush and delicate wildflowers, stand at the base of breathtaking red sandstone formations, then make your way to the top and bear witness to some of the most astounding geological formations in the country.
Compared to its neighboring national park, Canyonlands, Arches is smaller, but its proximity to Moab and its shorter trails—many of which are accessible right off the main road—make it perfect for day trips. Here are a few of our favorite Arches National Park hikes.
Balanced Rock Loop Trail
Distance: .3 miles
Formed through the weathering process, Balanced Rock is one of the features Arches is known for. The formation, comprised of a rock said to be the size of three school buses balanced atop a much smaller rock, is an Arches icon and visible from the main road. The short loop—about .3 miles—leads to its base and is worth a pull over just to get up close and personal with this towering natural wonder. You’ll also get an eyeful of wildflowers and be able to do some birding while you’re at it.
Windows Loop Trail (aka Spectacles)
Distance: 1 mile
After you’ve done the Balanced Rock Loop, take the first right just after it off the main road, and check out Windows Loop. The easy one-mile hike to North and South Window (known to many as Spectacles, due to its resemblance to a large pair of eyeglasses), as well as Turret Arch, also along this trail, offer not just the beauty of Moab, but plenty of worthy photo ops, too. And if you time it right, you’ll be able to catch a spectacular sunset.
Double Arch Trail
Distance: .5 miles
Another easy but worthy hike at Arches is the half-mile hike to Double Arch, a duo of sandstone arches that sit side by side. Once you’re within the Windows area, you can easily find the Double Arch trailhead just three miles down the road at the circle for Windows Loop Trail.
Fiery Furnace Hike
Distance: 2 miles
The Fiery Furnace hike is more strenuous than the previous hikes, and it requires a permit. Better yet, go with a ranger: a good idea because, due to the towering sandstone walls and labyrinth-like layout of this hike, GPS systems don’t work. This two-mile hike takes some dexterity and endurance, so plan ahead, be prepared, and seriously consider the ranger-led option.
Delicate Arch Trail
Distance: 3 miles
Another Arches icon is Delicate Arch with an expanse of 45 feet wide and 64 feet high. It’s the largest free-standing arch in the park, and the trail is considered one of the best and most popular hikes in the park. Slightly over three miles long and strenuous, this hike takes you to the famous state landmark (it even appears on the Utah license plate). It’s tucked back off the road, but seeking it out provides a worthy payoff.
Tower Arch Trail
Distance: 5.2 miles
If you’re game for a difficult but short hike, head to Tower Arch. Located more remotely than many of the arches in the Klondike Bluffs area of the park and requiring a short drive on an unpaved road to get to the trailhead, you’ll enjoy fewer crowds and room to roam. The round trip is 5.2 miles, and is a moderately easy hike.
Broken Arch Loop Trail
Distance: 1.7 miles
Head out from the Sand Dunes parking lot to make the 1.7-mile Broken Arch hike. Flat and easy enough for kids, this hike offers more beautiful sandstone configurations that rise to the sky and surrounds you with lovely desert vegetation and animals. This is an excellent hike if you’re a birder.
Park Avenue Trail
Distance: 2 miles
The Park Avenue Trail is an easy one to find: it’s one of the first you’ll see when entering the park. Take this moderate two-mile trail (round trip) to get up close to The Three Gossips, the Courthouse Towers, Queen Nefertiti and Queen Victoria Rock, the Organ, and the Tower of Babel. You can see each of these imposing columns from the road, but there’s nothing like walking through them all to get a true sense of their mighty presence.
Landscape Arch Trail
Distance: 1.56 miles
To see the longest sandstone arch in the world, take the Landscape Arch Trail. This easy one-and-a-half-mile hike will take you right to this powerful but delicate-looking formation, another one of Arches’ wondrous monuments to nature.
Devils Garden Loop Trail (and Primitive Loop Trail)
Distance: 8.1 miles
The longest and most strenuous trail in the park, slightly over eight miles round trip, Devils Garden Loop Trail takes you through this beautiful desert setting and up to six of the park’s major arches. Take this wide trail to Tunnel Arch and Pine Tree Arch, and get another chance to see Landscape Arch. Start ascending until you get to the bottom of Wall Arch, then go a bit higher to Navajo and Partition Arch. Marshall on about two and a half miles more, and peep a glimpse at Dark Angel and Double Arch. Include the Primitive Loop in this hike, and you’ll expose yourself to all the major sites this park has to offer.
Double O Arch Trail (includes Landscape Arch)
Distance: 4.1 miles
Another somewhat strenuous hike, but shorter than Devil’s Garden Loop Trail, is the Double O Arch Trail. You’ll get a nice workout in on this four-mile hike, and it includes Landscape Arch Trail, so you can kill two birds with one stone.
You can, of course, drive the 18-mile stretch of paved road for a clear view of many of the park’s formations. But when you want to get up close and personal with these phenomenal structures shaped by the passage of time and the elements of nature, add these Arches National Park hikes to your plan. Soak up the sun, get some exercise, and leave awestruck by the extraordinary sandstone formations that make up the landscape of stunning southeastern Utah.
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